Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for coming to Amsterdam again to hear my speech. The reason I am here rather than in Parliament or on a soap-box in Hyde Park will probably be lost on most of you. Political nerds will realise that I aim to set up a new movement in the British Conservative Party: depending on how well the speech goes down, there might be an Amsterdam Group of MPs and activists to add to the wonderful eclectic mix. Sorry for the delay in delivering this speech, even Prime Ministers get caught out by Britain’s laughably antiquated infrastructure!
Most of you listening to this speech are wondering how I am going to walk the tightrope between what the various groups of backbench MPs want and what it might be possibly to deliver in a “renegotiation” of Britain’s commitments under the European Union treaties. You are wondering how I am going to engage domestic support and the media as well as appease the various continental governments. You probably think that I have painted myself into an impossible corner and that I cannot propose something around which a consensus can coalesce.
I am today proposing a completely new form of European governance, based on the old and steadfast values of individual freedoms, private property rights, free markets and limited government.
I propose a new, simple European treaty which enshrines basic human rights and freedoms and strongly limits the ability of member governments to protect national industries at the expense of free trade. The only supra-national institution will be a tribunal to arbitrate on disputes between member nations on matters which fall within the scope of the treaty.
Member nations will of course be free to come to agreements between themselves on other issues, as long as those agreements do not compromise the underlying values of the treaty. Member nations will of course be free to organise their affairs in their own way according to their own traditions and constitutions. The treaty I propose will aim only to create a level playing field on trade matters, and to set a common gold standard on individual rights and freedoms. Any other agreements, such as on monetary co-operation or crime or the environment will be separate from this basic treaty.
A simple treaty confirming basic rights and freedoms will enable European nations to work together under one umbrella without individual countries feeling that they are getting a worse outcome than the rest. If some countries want to bind themselves ever more closely they will be free to do so, if others want to stand more aloof and arrange themselves along their unique ancient lines they will still be welcome under that basic umbrella.
A basic treaty such as this will be straightforward to administer and will have wide appeal to countries within the existing Union and to those wishing to join the present setup.
Once this treaty is in place, parliaments across the continent will start to consider which of the existing structures they wish to remain part of and which they no longer need. Europe will be a more free and diverse continent and through this will be more prosperous.
I invite heads of government from across Europe to meet in London for a conference as soon as practicable.